Cover image for Trans-sister radio
Trans-sister radio
Bohjalian, Chris, 1962-
Personal Author:
Abridged edition.
Publication Information:
New York, N.y. : Random House, [2000]

Physical Description:
5 audio discs (approximately 5 hr.) digital
General Note:
Compact disc.
Geographic Term:
Format :
Audiobook on CD


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X DISC 5 Adult Audiobook on CD Audiobooks

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Read by Judith Ivey Five CDs, Approx. 5 hours What if the person you have fallen madly, firmly in love with were to tell you that they are someone else--someone you are suddenly unsure you know?New York Timesbest-selling author Chris Bohjalian, known and loved for his inventive tales of people caught in moral and ethical dilemmas, posits this very question in a romantic and edgy new novel that's impossible to put down. Alison Banks is an elementary school teacher in her early 40s, whose only daughter is leaving soon for college. To take her mind off the impending separation, she takes a course at the local college and finds herself falling in love with her instructor, Dana. Handsome, sexy, and charming, he is the man Alison had given up hope of ever meeting. Months into their almost idyllic relationship, he confides a powerful and intimate piece of information: he loves her, but he has long known that he is a woman trapped in the body of a man.  After much soul searching and in order to free himself, he is having a sex-change operation at the end of the year.          Alison bolts, but comes back to him when she realizes how deeply in love she actually is. The story is told--in alternating chapters--by Alison; her teenage daughter, Carly; her ex-husband, Will; and the charismatic Dana, each adding layers of insight and complexity, each responding in his or her own way to the issue of how and why we love exactly who we do.          In his best-selling novelsMidwivesandThe Law of Similars, Chris Bohjalian examined, with remarkable subtlety and empathy, how lives can be changed through one seemingly random occurrence. InTrans-Sister Radio, he uses that subtlety and empathy to explore the very nature of love and identity. With this compelling, unforgettable new novel, Bohjalian gives his many readers a love story, a tense cautionary tale of morality, an outstanding cast of characters, and a whole new way of thinking about love.

Author Notes

Chris Bohjalian (born on August 12, 1962 in White Plains, New York) graduated from Amherst College and worked as an account representative for J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York in the mid-1980s. Bohjalian is an American novelist and the author of 15 novels, including the bestsellers Midwives and The Sandcastle Girls. His first novel, A Killing in the Real World, was released in 1988. His other novels include Water Witches, The Law of Similars, Before You Know Kindness, Skeletons at the Feast, and The Night Strangers. Past the Bleachers and Midwives were made into Hallmark Hall of Fame movies and Secrets of Eden was made into a Lifetime Television movie. He won the New England Book Award in 2002. He also contributes to numerous publications including Cosmopolitan, Reader's Digest, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine and the Burlington Free Press. Bohjalian's The Guest Room is a New York Times bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

What is the relationship between gender and sexuality? How do your feelings about yourself as a man or woman affect your sexual preferences? How important are your genitalia to your self-image? Bohjalian explores these questions with honesty and compassion. Allison, an elementary-school teacher, takes a film class and falls in love with Dana, her professor. Dana feels the same way about Allison--but when he reveals his plans to undergo a sex change operation, Allison is tormented with questions. She loves Dana as a man--what if she isn't attracted to Dana as a woman? Why should Dana's gender matter if Allison loves the person inside the body? Once word gets out, outraged parents complain that Allison's relationship with Dana is a moral danger to the children she teaches, so that Allison risks losing not only Dana, but her job as well. Provocative and insightful, this gender-bending novel will make readers question what it means to be a man or a woman, and how strongly these identities are influenced by biological and cultural pressures. --Bonnie Johnston

Publisher's Weekly Review

The bestselling author of Midwives and The Law of Similars continues his tradition of incorporating social issues into his moving narratives. Transsexuality goes mainstream in this Scarlet Letter for a softer, gentler but more complicated age. Allison Banks--42 years old, heterosexual, long divorced, mother of a college student and a grade school teacher in a picturesque Vermont village--meets single, attractive, attentive, 35-year-old Dana Stevens when she takes his film class at a nearby college. Early on in the relationship, Dana confesses that he has always believed he was female, though he desires women, too--and he is soon to undergo a long-planned sex change operation. Despite this revelation, and despite her reservations, Allison invites Dana to move in with her, and they have great sex right up until the night before the operation in Colorado, where Allison has loyally accompanied Dana for post-op and moral support. On their return to Vermont, he--now physically and emphatically "she"--continues to share Allison's bed and her house, though nothing can be the same as it was. Allison's ex-husband, Vermont Public Radio president Will, now her good friend, and their daughter, Carly, cope well with the situation, but the close-knit community is less understanding. Questions of what constitutes community tolerance are explored here, but the novel's central focus is on the definition of sex and gender in the characters' personal lives. Allison, Dana, Carly and Will express their views in alternating first person chapters, and transcripts from a fictional NPR All Things Considered series on Dana and her operation provide additional narrative background. Gender is central to who we are, Bohjalian concludes, but not perhaps to who we love. Sex, on the other hand, expresses who we are. Bohjalian's sometimes simplistic characterizations diminish the emotional impact of the novel, and his abundant research on gender dysfunction often gives the book a curiously flat, documentary quality. Nevertheless, Bohjalian humanizes the transsexual community and explains the complexities of sex and gender in an accessible, evenhanded fashion, making a valuable contribution to a dialogue of social and political import. 50,000 first printing; NPR sponsorship; cross-promotion with Vintage publication of The Law of Similars; 15-city author tour. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A compelling and often disturbing novel, Trans-sister Radio challenges all of our assumptions about gender, relationships, and sexuality. A powerful secret literally transforms four lives: Allison Banks, a sixth grade teacher; Will, her ex-husband and president of a local Vermont Public Radio station; their teenage daughter Carly; and Dana Stevens, a college instructor who falls in love with Allison. The structure of the book is essential for understanding the (r)evolution of emotions that occur with the complex issues Bohjalian explores through private lives made very public. The four voices, performed by Kymberli Colbourne, alternate to reveal their own separate struggles and to create a metamorphosis that is central to the story. A demanding work that is often graphic, always gentle, and full of wisdom and surprising humor. Recommended for adult audiences. Joyce Kessel, Villa Maria Coll., Buffalo, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Carly I was eight when my parents separated, and nine when they actually divorced. That means that for a little more than a decade, I've watched my mom get ready for dates. Sometimes, until I started ninth grade, I'd even keep her company on Saturday afternoons, while she'd take these long, luxurious bubble baths. I'd put the lid down on the toilet and sit there, and we'd talk about school or boys or the guy she was dating. I stopped joining her in the bathroom in ninth grade for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it had started to seem a little weird to me to be hanging out with her when I was fourteen and she was naked. But she has always been pretty cool about bodies and sex, and for all I know, she wouldn't mind my joining her in the bathroom even now when I'm home from college. For better or worse--and usually for better--my mom has always been very comfortable with subjects that give most parents the shivers. A couple of days before my fifteenth birthday, she took me to the gynecologist to get me fitted for a diaphragm, and told me where in her bedroom she kept the spermicidally lubricated condoms. (Of course, I already knew: God, by then I even knew where she'd hidden a vibrator.) I hadn't had sex yet, and my mom made it clear that she didn't want me to in the foreseeable future. But she had a pretty good memory of the hormonal chaos that hits a person in high school, and she wanted to do all that she could for my sake to ensure that she wouldn't become a grandmother any sooner than necessary. When I think back on it, my parents' divorce was very civilized. At least it has always seemed that way to me, though it's clear there are things I don't know. The way my mom tells it, I was in second or third grade when they realized they just didn't love each other anymore the way they had when they were first married. They'd worked together at the radio station then, and they'd shared everything. My mom insists they both came to the realization at about the same time that they should separate: My mom was thirty-two and my dad was thirty-three, and they figured they were still young enough to hook up with someone who, in the long years ahead, could keep their motors humming the way they were meant to. Sometimes my dad hints that it wasn't quite so mutual. Most of the time he toes their party line, but every so often I'll get the impression that when he moved out, he was figuring they'd both change their minds and reconcile in a couple of weeks. I think he might have thought he was just being cool. Once when he was visiting my mom, I overheard him telling her that he knew her heart had never been into the counseling they went through when I was eight. Still, he was the one who got remarried. Sometimes, when I was little, I'd help my mom pick out her jewelry or clothing for a date. "Wear the pearls," I might suggest. "It's a clambake," she'd remind me. "Too formal?" "And they might scare the oysters." One time she especially indulged me. I was eleven years old and convinced there was no fashion statement more powerful than a kilt. And so she wore a red-and-green Christmas kilt to a backyard cookout, even though it was the middle of August and the air was just plain sticky. That night my baby-sitter spent most of the time standing in front of a fan, with her T-shirt rolled up like a halter. If I were to count, I'd guess my mom probably had five serious boyfriends in the decade between my parents' divorce and the day she met Dana. Dana had been in pre-surgical therapy for two years by then and had probably endured close to fifty hours of electrolysis. He'd been on hormone therapy for a good four or five months. Unlike a lot of pre-op M2Fs, he wasn't trying to pass as a woman yet, he hadn't begun his transition. Of course, he didn't tell my mom any of this--not that he should have. When they met, he was simply the professor for a film course at the university that she was taking that summer as a lark, and she was one of his students. What was he supposed to do, say to the class, "Hi, I'm Dana, and I've spent a good part of the last year with my upper lip deadened by Novacaine"? Or, "Good evening, I'm your professor. I'm about to start developing breasts!" Or, if he wanted, for some reason, to be completely candid, "You folks ever met a lesbian with a penis? Have now!" He had no idea he was going to fall in love with my mom, even when they started to date, and she had no idea she was going to fall in love with him. It just happened. From the Hardcover edition. Excerpted from Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.